In last Sunday’s Style magazine AA Gill reviewed Brawn, the sister restaurant to Terroirs in East London. His closing comments were that the small plates and sharing style of eating that we are seeing so much more of is starting to wear thin with him. He wants a ‘sense of occasion, some gastronomic obsession, an epicurean generosity’. The man is fed up with cool and wants a comfortable chair.
Adrian is 55, I am 25 and my posterior can clearly still handle wooden chairs. This is the problem with many of today’s broadsheet critics. They don’t really want cool. They don’t like no reservations policies and they want a comfy seat. The youngest of them is Giles and he is now in his forties and has a child. Don’t be surprised if we start seeing more ‘child friendly’ restaurants being reviewed in the Saturday Times over the next few years.
The doyenne of restaurant critics reviewed Spuntino last week and let’s face it, we are unlikely to see her and Reg propping up the bar anytime soon because it is not their cup of chai. And I can quite understand that. I am sure when the time comes for me to qualify for a free bus pass I will not want to eat my mac and cheese on a barstool either, hence why I am making the most of it now.
The last thing I want to be is ageist and I fully respect, and enjoy reading the reviews of all the broadsheet critics but I am baffled that in a time when the London restaurant scene has become so cool and so accessible to the younger generations that there isn’t one critic to represent our age bracket?
We all know that reviews of any nature are subjective. And that is the issue here. Most people my age want to go to a restaurant where they can have a bit of fun, chat loudly in groups, eat good food, drink and relax. They don’t want to have to specifically ask whether they can supplement the salmon for the lamb on the 8 course tasting menu which has to be had by the whole table because one person wants to have it. And probably most importantly, we can’t afford do to that on a regular basis. Whereas you can rock up to Polpo, Wahaca, Leon (to name but a few) and eat, drink and be merry for around £30 ahead, if that.
So, as much as I love to tuck in to a 3 Michelin star meal, I am nowhere near done with cool. In fact, I have only just started. Small plates that are designed to be shared make eating more sociable, more fun and against common misconception, sometimes cheaper.
Fay won a competition in the Evening Standard for a three-month contract to write the newspaper’s restaurant reviews in 1972 at the tender age of 27. We need something like this again. Us young’uns may not have the experience but we have the passion and knowledge. Just look at the number of food bloggers out there.
So Mr Lebedev, Mr Murdoch…what you waiting for?